Guantánamo

Ex-Guantánamo detainee calls for UK inquiry into abuses

Shaker Aamer, cleared for release since at least 2009, poses for the International Red Cross at the old Camp Delta in a photo released by his family.
Shaker Aamer, cleared for release since at least 2009, poses for the International Red Cross at the old Camp Delta in a photo released by his family.

The last British resident held at Guantánamo Bay says former Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior officials should be granted legal immunity to reveal what they knew about British complicity in abuses during the so-called war on terror.

Shaker Aamer, 48, was freed in October after nearly 14 years as a U.S. military prisoner. He was never charged with a crime.

Aamer told ITV News “we need to hear the truth” from Blair and others but “you are not going to get the truth from these people if they are scared.”

The now free captive likened Guantánamo to Azkaban, the prison from the “Harry Potter” stories, “where there’s no happiness.”

In the interview broadcast Monday, he said he wanted an inquiry to find out the truth but said “nobody should be prosecuted because of what happened in the past.”

Aamer says he was tortured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Guantánamo — and that British intelligence agents knew of the abuse.

The British government says it opposes torture in all circumstances.

In a separate interview, Aamer told the BBC that he did not plan to sue the British government over his detention.

Aamer — a Saudi citizen who married a British woman and moved to London in the mid-1990s —says he moved to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan because he wanted to live in a Muslim country. In the chaos that followed the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, he was captured by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and turned over to U.S. forces. He was sent to Guantánamo in February 2002.

The U.S. Defense Department has said Aamer shared an apartment in the late 1990s with Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of taking part in the Sept. 11 conspiracy, and that he received a stipend from the late al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

He was never charged, and was freed after a task force appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama conducted a “comprehensive review” of his case.

Aamer said he did not know Moussaoui and had falsely confessed under torture to knowing bin Laden.

“I told them what they want so I can be left alone,” he told ITV.

Aamer likened Guantánamo to Azkaban, the prison from the “Harry Potter” stories, “where there’s no happiness.”

“They just suck all your feeling out of you,” he told the BBC. “Truly, that’s how I felt all the time.”

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